UFC president Dana White left the UFC on ESPN 21 main event with more questions than answers following Derek Brunson’s unanimous decision win over rising prospect Kevin Holland.
Holland, notorious for his nonstop trash talk during competition, went all-out with his verbal assault towards Brunson beginning in the fight’s opening seconds. Despite suffering from numerous takedowns by Brunson throughout the fight, Holland often laughed out loud and attempted to start conversations rather than working back up to his feet.
White said the pressure of being labeled as the hot prospect in a UFC main event got the better of Holland in the cage.
“I think that was a mental breakdown,” UFC president Dana White said after the fight in an interview with Yahoo! Sports. “I don’t know what he was doing. I think he might not have been able to handle the pressure and just broke mentally. I haven’t seen anything like that.”
As for Brunson, the UFC veteran will likely earn an opportunity against a Top-5 opponent in the stacked middleweight division. Shortly after the fight, Brunson called out second-ranked contender Paulo Costa, who recently pulled out of his upcoming bout with Robert Whittaker due to illness.
Brunson didn’t mince words when asked about Holland’s antics in the cage.
“That was pretty stupid, he should’ve worked to get out of positions,” Brunson said during his post-fight press conference. “I think he’ll learn from this and be a little bit more focused in his next fight.”
Brunson also said he’ll need just a couple months off before returning to competition, while Holland teased a potential move to welterweight during his appearance on the UFC on ESPN 21 post-fight show.
What did you think of Kevin Holland’s overall performance against Derek Brunson? Do you think he should change his vocal approach to fighting moving forward?